The Vancouver city council has voted to cut public funding from Canada's oldest rape crisis center because they refuse to allow trans-identified males into spaces specifically reserved for female victims.
Vancouver Rape Relief, which was founded in 1973, was defunded because they were "supporting transphobia," according to city council member Christine Boyle, who in a March 13 tweet explained that she was voting to strip the organization of public funds because she could not support an organization that was not "inclusive" of transwomen and sex workers.
Transgender advocates celebrated the vote as they have long considered the nonprofit group as a hub of bigotry toward persons who identify as transgender.
The rape crisis center said in an statement online that they were the victims of discrimination masked as "inclusion" and said the city government was attempting to "coerce us to change our position" of barring males and only offering services to females, the National Post reported earlier this week.
"Our services are available to all women who have experienced male violence. We provide assistance to women and girls in prostitution who have been assaulted by johns, pimps or men pressuring them into prostitution. We provide assistance to women who are currently being prostituted, women who are trying to escape prostitution, and women who have been trafficked into prostitution," VRR explained.
"Being girls and women in this world often impacts both how we look and how we act in private and in public; what we are allowed to do, encouraged to do and rewarded for; and also what we are discouraged from doing, prohibited to do or punished for."
The Christian Post reached out to VRR for comment on this article and was referred to their online statement.
"In the last few days we have received many messages of solidarity and donations from around the world. We are encouraged and grateful for this tremendous support," the group said in part.
VRR has long maintained that forcing females — particularly those recovering from rape and other forms of male violence — to share intimate spaces with males, even if they present as female, is disrespectful of the victims and often serves to re-traumatize them.
The move to bar VRR from government resources was led in large part by Morgane Oger, a trans-identified male who has long accused this group of discrimination and bigotry. Oger is also the vice president of the British Columbia New Democratic Party.
"Tax-funded @VanRapeRelief pushes prejudice in an indignant online rant about discrimination despite a one-year grace period to catch up to Canada's discrimination laws by @CityofVancouver," Oger said in a March 17 tweet in response to VRR's statement.
The City of Vancouver funds represents only $33,972 of Vancouver Rape Relief’s over $1 million annual budget, the majority of which is provided by the Province of British Columbia, the National Post reported Monday.
VRR said the city funds were used for educational outreach programs which were “free and accessible and available to everyone,” including those who identify as transgender.
“Rape Relief is strong enough and principled enough and has enough supporters in the community ... we will say no to that kind of money,” VRR spokesperson Hilla Kerner told Star Vancouver in a March 14 phone interview before the city council vote took place.
Meghan Murphy, the Vancouver-based founder and editor Feminist Current and longtime advocate for VRR's work, said the city government's action against them was "disgusting."
"I will never understand the drive to lie about and smear those who support and fight for women," Murphy said, noting it was especially hard to see young women do so.
"We live in such a sad, confused time."